LTO and LTFS - Delivering Archive Advantages with Qualstar Tape Libraries
Executive Summary: Users everywhere are struggling with relentless data
growth. LTO tape based archive systems hold the key for many users to gain the upper
hand in the battle to contain storage costs. This white paper describes how a Qualstar
library solution incorporating LTO and the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) delivers a very
cost-effective storage solution for the data center.
With new initiatives in big data, cloud, virtualization, video, social media, and
entertainment, there will be no slowdown in the amount of data generated, stored, and managed
by IT organizations. Storage purchases are expected to grow at a CAGR of 53% between 2011
and 2016 1. New desktop, workstation, and server solutions incorporating HDD and SSD
devices with higher capacities add to an organization's total storage footprint, and users are
eager and ready to fill these systems with ever more data. All of this translates into massive
increases in data that needs to be stored, accessed, and protected.
Preserving this digital content is important no matter what industry you are in, so finding
new ways to manage the process heads the agenda in many data centers. Data protection
activities like backup, snapshot, and replication have been around for decades, but have taken
on new urgency with exploding data growth. For many organizations, archive is thought of as
only for "compliance", or "what we used to do in the old days" for general purpose protection.
That is no longer the case, as today's archiving solutions play a key role in effective data
management systems that use various tools to optimize storage capacity, performance and
It is increasingly difficult and very costly to store all data on disk. Tape is the most costeffective means of storage and data transportation, while contributing to substantially lower
energy, acquisition and administration costs. Archiving data is the key to maintaining control of
the overwhelming quantities of new unstructured data that IT groups are confronted with. Tape
based archives can substantially increase the performance of data protection processes by
removing from their production systems the vast amounts of little used data that most IT
organizations still need to manage. Tape is also the best method for storing important data that
must be preserved for compliance and security reasons.
Why Tape is The Best Media for Long Term Storage of Data
Your organization may be one of the many who have decided that it is easier to just
"preserve it all". That approach is becoming cost-prohibitive. In a recent study on backup and
disaster recovery conducted by the Enterprise Strategy Group, a disk-based virtual tape library
system with a 15:1 deduplication ratio was compared to a tape library using LTO-5 tape
technology. Measured costs included hardware acquisition, maintenance, floor space, software,
administration and energy consumption for both power and cooling. A variety of disaster
April 2013 IDC studies on Storage for Big data: Insight Into Usage Patterns and Influencers in Deployment of
Storage for Big Data
recovery methods and scenarios were analyzed in the comparison. The final conclusion: even
with dedupe the VTL system was two to three times more costly than the tape library.
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group
Another study on the TCO of archive systems by The Clipper Group analyzed 12 years
of hardware, maintenance, floor space, and energy costs for disk-based versus tape librarybased petabyte scale systems. This exhaustive study concluded that the total cost of ownership
for a disk archive storage solution was 15 times greater than using a tape library with LTO
technology. The cost of energy alone to power and cool the disk-based system was more than
the entire TCO for the tape library solution.
Both of these studies underscored that tape is the media of choice for long term
archiving. In today's environments, LTO is the preferred tape technology for automated tape
libraries - the combination that delivers the undisputed lowest TCO for long term archival
LTFS - Delivering Even More Archive Advantages
Based on an open software specification that incorporates new ways of accessing data
on tape, Linear Tape File System (LTFS) directly addresses data archive requirements. LTFS
presents a tape cartridge as an extension of a Windows, MAC, or Linux file system, and is
compatible across each of these environments.
Now, knowing the content of an archived tape is easy using a single storage media
standard. An LTO tape cartridge with LTFS appears as a drive letter, icon, or folder, just like a
hard disk, CD/DVD disk, or USB stick. Files on tape can be accessed directly from any
application. The contents of the tape can be simply viewed in the operating system directory
tree. The tape is now a random accessible device. Using LTFS, users can easily "drag and
drop", exchange, archive, and share files on tape, just as they would on any other media.
Common operations like file open, write, read, append, delete, and close can also be used. No
proprietary backup or archive software is needed to view the content. Users now have all the
advantages of immediate data access via tape, a much less expensive and "green" storage
LTFS is implemented on LTO-5 and LTO-6 drives and tapes by utilizing media
partitioning to create a self describing file system. The tape is logically divided "lengthwise" into
two partitions. The "Index Partition" at the beginning of the tape holds the file system index,
tape index, and metadata. The "Content Partition", contains the files and content bodies.
When the tape is loaded, the index data is copied to the workstation or server memory for fast
access and updates. The index data is also periodically backed up to the content partition 2.
Ultrium LTO
Taking LTFS one step further, some archiving application providers aggregate the index
data from individual cartridges into a single unified data set view, like a NAS or RAID. This
capability is ideal for use with tape libraries, which can deliver disk-like access at much lower
cost. Note that the index information on each tape is
maintained and kept up-to-date, enabling any tape to
be moved to another site and read or written without
the need for any proprietary software.
Advantages of Qualstar Libraries with LTO Tape
Qualstar has a 15-year track record of
designing reliable, easy-to-use tape libraries. Qualstar
libraries incorporating LTO technology deliver costeffective and efficient storage for archive and data
protection requirements. LTO is the worldwide tape
format standard, offering an unrivaled combination of
data reliability, performance and high capacity.
Qualstar RLS and XLS libraries support LTO-5
and LTO-6, housing up to 159 tape drives, up to
11,780 cartridges, and delivering native capacities
from 75 terabytes to more than 29 petabytes. Each LTO 5 cartridge holds 1.5 TB native (3 TB
Note that the tape is still a sequential device, requiring the library to move it to the correct position. It takes an
average of 40-60 seconds to reach the beginning of the file. After the file is located, the transfer rate is the LTO
rate of 140MB/s (LTO 5) or 160MB/s( LTO 6).
with compression), while LTO 6 offers 2.5 TB per cartridge (6.25 TB/cartridge with advanced
compression). Both generations provide a 30-year data life.
Qualstar Tape Library Models
XLS Enterprise
Tape Libraries
No. of
up to 159 236 TB - 17 PB
Over 35 PB
400 TB - 28 PB
Over 71 PB
Expandable Rack
Mount Tape
up to 8
75 to 255 TB
Over 510 TB
125 to 425 TB
Over 1 PB
Expandable Rack
Mount Tape
up to 20
81- 711 TB
Over 1.4 PB
135 TB - 1 PB
Over 2.9 PB
LTO-5 and LTO-6 drives are fast, up to 160MB/s native (400MB/s with 2.5:1
compression), enabling over 1.4 TB of data transfer per hour, per drive.
LTO-5 and LTO-6 cartridges are also available in a Write Once, Read Many (WORM)
format. This provides unalterable data storage while retaining the ability to append data to the
Hardware encryption is standard in Qualstar XLS and RLS tape libraries. The process is
straightforward and has virtually no impact on drive performance. An AES 256-bit encryption
data key is provided to the tape drive by the library. Data is written to the cartridge in encrypted
form to protect sensitive information. Encryption software and appliances are not needed.
Qualstar Libraries Meet the Needs of Media and Entertainment
In media and entertainment applications, Qualstar LTO tape solutions are ideal for
saving digital original camera negatives (OCNs) and raw digital capture files. LTFS provides a
common dependable exchange medium for post production files archived to tape. Qualstar
solutions using LTO/LTFS tape are also a high capacity performance option allowing the
movement of very large files between users and processes. Transferring master footage,
editorial, and other important files to LTO tape maintains project integrity, ensures critical data
will be available well into the future, and fulfills an ongoing need for lower cost offline storage,
portability and interchange.
Long term archive will continue to grow as a strategic initiative as organizations
generate, process, and store ever increasing amounts of data. LTFS in conjunction with LTO-5
and LTO-6 tape technology has enhanced tape's ease of use for data access in an archive
solution. Qualstar tape libraries with LTO/LTFS play a vital role in corporate data protection
strategies, and offer the most reliable, portable, cost-effective advantages to protect and
preserve data created by applications as diverse as media and entertainment, digital
surveillance, medical imaging, legal, architecture, big data, and the cloud.
About Qualstar Corporation
Qualstar, founded in 1984, is a diversified electronics manufacturer specializing in data storage
and power supplies. The company's products are known throughout the world for high quality
and Simply Reliable designs that provide years of trouble-free service. More information is
available at or, or by phone at 805-583-7744.
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